Islam in the movies

Here's a sample of films, both Hollywood and foreign, that have portrayed Islamic characters that defy stereotypes. The Monitor doesn't necessarily endorse the content of these movies.

My Son the Fanatic (1997) R

Director: Uydayan Prasad

Starring: Om Puri, Rachel Griffiths, Stellan Skarsgiard, Akbar Kurtha.

A Pakistani taxi driver in England makes his living driving around prostitutes. When he discovers his son is exploring Islamic fundamentalism, he finds his way of life threatened.

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) PG-13

Director: Kevin Reynolds

Starring: Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman.

Many Muslims have praised the positive portrayal of Morgan Freeman's Muslim character, a friend of Robin Hood.

The 13th Warrior (1999) R

Director: John McTiernan

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Omar Sharif.

Set in A.D. 922, an Arab courtier (Banderas) has to help Vikings defeat a foe. The civilized Islamic character finds himself appalled by the Vikings' primitive ways.

Malcolm X (1992) R

Director: Spike Lee

Starring: Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett, Albert Hall, Delroy Lindo.

Spike Lee's biopic of the African-American leader chronicles his conversion to the Nation of Islam and then, later, to Sunni Islam after a pilgrimage to Mecca.

The Suitors (1998) Not Rated

Director: Ghasem Ebrahimian

Starring: Pouran Esrafily, Ali Azizian.

A group of Iranians living in New York decide to celebrate a marriage in a customary manner - sacrificing a lamb. But apartment neighbors become suspicious and call in a SWAT team. In Farsi with English subtitles

The Message (1997) PG

Director: Moustapha Akkad

Starring: Anthony Quinn, Irene Papas.

An epic film in which Quinn plays the uncle of Muhammad, the founder of Islam.

Lion of the Desert (1981) PG

Director: Moustapha Akkad

Starring: Anthony Quinn, Irene Papas, Oliver Reed, Rod Steiger, John Geilgud.

Led by Omar Mukhtar, Libyan Muslims on horseback battle Mussolini's armored artillery as Italy attempts to capture Libya.

Taste of Cherry (1997) Not Rated

Director: Abbas Kiarostami

Starring: Homayon Ershadi, Afshin Bakhtiari

An educated Iranian man sets out to find an individual who will help him end his life. Some people he meets discuss suicide in the context of Islam, but will he pursue his plan anyway? In Farsi with English subtitles


Director: Youssef Chahine

Starring: Nour El-Sharif, Laila Eloui.

Set in the 12th century, when Muslim Arabs ruled Andalusia, Spain, a philosopher must rise to the defense of the ruling Caliph when a fundamentalist Muslim sect vies for supremacy. In Arabic with subtitles

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